Paul Nehlen, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s 2016 primary opponent, issued a statement Friday calling for his rival to step down as head of the House of Representatives.
Nehlen spoke to his Twitter followers after White House House Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus, a key Ryan ally the Speaker had urged President Donald Trump to keep on, stepped down. Nehlen sought to portray Priebus’s ouster in spite of Ryan’s defense as a sign the administration had lost faith in his speakership. He used the Periscope app to proclaim:
Speaker Ryan, Sir — you need to step down. The White House doesn’t trust you. America doesn’t trust you. We’re done. We’ve had it. We are ready for a new Speaker. We want to see change happen. We want our country back, and you are standing in the way of the Trump Train, and you’re gonna get run over on those tracks.
In Ryan’s stead, Nehlen suggested Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) or Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), two leading House Freedom Caucus members who have been vocal in their attempts to keep the GOP House Caucus on track with the Trump agenda. Meadows, for instance, has insisted on funding for the southern border wall in the next House budget resolution, something on which Ryan has been equivocal.
Nehlen’s suggestions for replacement speakers echoed similar calls made in April, at the height of the American Health Care Act morass, by Lou Dobbs.
Regardless of whether Ryan remains in his post as Speaker, he will face another primary challenge from Nehlen. The Wisconsin businessman announced the launch of his second bid to unseat Ryan last month. Last year’s Republican primary in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District saw Nehlen lose overwhelmingly to Ryan in his first ever political campaign. Despite his inability to court a formal endorsement from then-candidate Donald Trump as the populist insurgent, Nehlen was able to turn the discourse of the race in a decidedly Trump-Republican direction, forcing Ryan to take a position against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make other overtures to economic nationalism.
Since announcing for 2018, Nehlen has kept up the pressure on Ryan, writing an op-ed for Breitbart News questioning his manufacturing bone fides. In his Friday address, Nehlen hit Ryan on his inability to rally his caucus to repeal Obamacare.
“It is time for Speaker Ryan to step down. He is doing nothing but undermine President Trump. He cannot lead the House of Representatives. He’s not a leader,” Nehlen told his supporters.